Qigong and Taiji
Qigong is, unlike acupuncture and naturopathy, a kind of self-cultivation. The philosophy that sets its tone is basically the same as that which has been described above, and the exercises partly aim to improve and facilitate the circulation of qi and blood in the body. Thus, one strengthens the body. Qigong is very relaxing and improves one’s power of concentration. The exercises increase body consciousness, strengthen the immune system and regulate blood pressure. In China, qigong is employed as therapy for various kinds of diseases. Qigong may be practised whilst standing up, lying down or walking. The exercises coordinate the physical form with the concentration and breath.
According to Qigong, body and mind are one. Qigong is a successful combination of deep meditation and physical cultivation. It is a kind of meditation in motion, although the form at times is immobile and an inner movement is focalized. The outer form is often quite simple and progress is mainly done at the inner level. The origin of these movements dates far back in history; around 2500 years ago forms similar to those of present qigong were practised in China. Then, as now, one exercised in order to increase life quality and to improve one’s sense of well-being.
Taiji and The Inner Martial Arts of China
The inner martial arts of China are: taiji quan, bagua zhang, xingyi quan and dacheng quan. Taiji quan is often abbreviated as taiji, and is sometimes designated as taichi.
There is a close connection between qigong and the inner martial arts of China, the generic term of which is neijia quan. In both, the inner circulation of qi is regarded as most important – hence, the denomination, inner martial arts, which distinguish themselves from outer (martial arts).
Even though taiji is a martial art, it is highly sophisticated. A person who acts in accordance with the principles of taiji never attacks; she acts in self-defence only, and then she makes use of the force of the opponent, in order to counteract if needed. The inner martial arts are coherent with the Daoist philosophies. For example, taiji puts in the practise the idea of the supremacy of water.
Bagua means the eight trigrams, and has in view the combinations of broken and unbroken lines first described in Yi Jing (I Ching), The Book of Changes, written about 3000 years ago. Bagua is thus based on the incessant movements and changes in nature. These constant changes are applied in the form bagua zhang.